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GM plans to boost right-hand-drive model range

on January 14 2014 | in Industry news, Latest news | by | with Comments Off

The next-generation Camaro sports car will almost certainly be among a number of Chevrolet-badged models built in North America for right-hand-drive markets such as New Zealand and Australia.

General Motors’ product development chief Mark Reuss – the American who ran Holden Australia and NZ in recent years – has confirmed that the US carmaker will for the first time develop vehicles with right-hook markets in mind.

Reuss told reporters at the Detroit motor show that GM was going to try and do as many such cars and trucks as possible.

“Everything we design new going forward we’re going to try and do right-hand-drive – I think we have to,” he said.

But Reuss left a right-hand-drive Corvette off the list. “I’m not going to talk about that now,” he said.

Ruess spoke to reporters at the unveiling of the new GMC Canyon, a mid-sized truck for the US market that in future might be available in right-hand drive.

Industry observers say GM’s plans for right-hook US nameplates could be helped by greater volumes in traditional markets – UK, South Africa, NZ, Australia – along with emerging biggies like India.

I wrote almost three years ago that the two-door Camaro (pictured above and designed and engineered in Melbourne) would spearhead a new global product initiative by GM, based around long-time US badge names.

It was known then that Holden and Ford would close within the next five or so years their loss-making car plants in Australia and that both would build replacement models off ‘global’ platforms.

Ford was the first to move on a famous US nameplate. CEO Alan Mulally confirmed in 2012 that the next-generation Mustang would be built for the world. It goes on sale in NZ next year as a factory-backed model, for the first time in its 50-year history.

GM’s move to build left- and right-hookers could see all sorts of previously unavailable GM models available for NZ, including its range of pick-up trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Canyon and its SUVs, including the Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Suburban.

Australia would be more of a market for such vehicles, pick-ups especially. Indeed the mining industry there is already chockablock with left-hook Dodge Rams, Chev Silverados and Ford F-Series workhorses.

They are able to be used because mine site roads across the ditch are zoned private. It’s only on public Australian roads that left-hand drive vehicles are banned.

GM’s move might also mean the return of Cadillac to this part of the world.  The nameplate was on its way here in 2008 before GM suddenly pulled it when the GFC bit deep.

Waikato dealer Ebbetts shipped many of the Cadillac CTS sedans that had already landed in Australia and sold them here.

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